Food and the City: New York's Professional Chefs, Restaurateurs, Line Cooks, Street Vendors, and Purveyors Talk About What They Do and Why They Do It (Paperback)

Food and the City: New York's Professional Chefs, Restaurateurs, Line Cooks, Street Vendors, and Purveyors Talk About What They Do and Why They Do It By Ina Yalof Cover Image

Food and the City: New York's Professional Chefs, Restaurateurs, Line Cooks, Street Vendors, and Purveyors Talk About What They Do and Why They Do It (Paperback)


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An unprecedented behind-the-scenes tour of New York City’s dynamic food culture, as told through the voices of the chefs, line cooks, restaurateurs, waiters, and street vendors who have made this industry their lives.
In Food and the City, Ina Yalof takes us on an insider’s journey into New York’s pulsating food scene alongside the men and women who call it home. Dominique Ansel declares what great good fortune led him to make the first cronut. Lenny Berk explains why Woody Allen’s mother would allow only him to slice her lox at Zabar’s. Ghaya Oliveira, who came to New York as a young Tunisian stockbroker, opens up about her hardscrabble yet swift trajectory from dishwasher to executive pastry chef at Daniel. Restaurateur Eddie Schoenfeld describes his journey from Nice Jewish Boy from Brooklyn to New York’s Indisputable Chinese Food Maven.

From old-schoolers such as David Fox, third-generation owner of Fox’s U-bet syrup, and the outspoken Upper West Side butcher “Schatzie,” to new kids on the block including Patrick Collins, sous chef at The Dutch, and Brooklyn artisan Lauren Clark of Sucre Mort Pralines, Food and the City is a fascinating oral history with an unforgettable gallery of New Yorkers who embody the heart and soul of a culinary metropolis.

Ina Yalof has been writing books and articles about such diverse subjects as medicine, science, religion, and happiness for more than thirty years. Her books include the widely acclaimed oral history Life and Death: The Story of a Hospital, What It Means to Be Jewish, How I Write (coauthored with Janet Evanovich), What Happy Women Know, and Food and the City. Yalof’s articles have appeared in numerous national publications, including GQ, Harper's Bazaar, and New York magazine. She lives—and eats—in New York City.

Product Details ISBN: 9780425279052
ISBN-10: 0425279057
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: May 7th, 2019
Pages: 384
Language: English
“[A] compelling volume by a writer whose beat is not food. What she offers are first-person accounts from more than 50 individuals behind city institutions like Zabar’s and Peter Luger … with plenty of opinions to savor.”--Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

An Amazon Best Book of June 2016 and Best Books of 2016 So Far (June, 2016)

"An appetizing oral history"--The New York Times

“Ina Yalof’s Food and the City presents a uniquely wide view of the food landscape in New York by sharing the engaging voices and compelling stories of the vibrant people living and working in this world every day. By honing these tales, Yalof gives lucky readers an insider’s perspective on the diverse food world in New York City”. --Eric Ripert, executive chef, Le Bernardin

“Each story in this book inspires me with the turn of the page. These are stories of passion, motivation, hardship and resilience. Ina Yalof has captured the ingredients for success in the NYC restaurant scene while weaving tales that showcase the unwavering spirit of our fellow New Yorkers.”
--Marcus Samuelsson, James Beard-award winning chef and New York Times-bestselling author of Marcus off Duty and Yes, Chef!

"Ina Yalof’s book captures well once unknown tales of New York City’s hard working chefs. I am proud that she featured our pastry Chef at restaurant DANIEL, Chef Ghaya, and her unique story. She’s been through a moving journey in her personal and professional life and her overall loyalty and dedication will inspire all." --Daniel Boulud, chef/owner, The Dinex Group

“New Yorkers are so obsessed with eating, they often forget who’s getting the food to them. Here are their stories and their struggles, with appearances by hurricanes, ghettos, poverty, 9/11, Rikers Island, real wars and hot dog wars. You’ll be charmed and you’ll be moved.”
--Alan Richman, sixteen-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

“A wonderful book in which amazing cooks, chefs, and artisans tell their unique stories.  I was particularly taken with the words of the immigrants, who are rarely celebrated. Their lives are not without struggles, crazy long hours and daily frustrations, yet the spirit of New York cuisine is in all of them.”

“Personality and humor shine brightly throughout these essays…From the oldest Chinese restaurant in New York to a Rikers Island food service overseer, each of these vignettes shares a common theme about devotion and dedication within the vast gastronomical spectrum…Collectively, Yalof’s assortment of cuisines and memories paints a multiculturally diverse food tapestry, and each individually embodies a passion of food artistry that crosses generations, cultures, nationalities, and all manner of palates. A wide-ranging, toothsome smorgasbord of Gotham’s good eats and the tireless men and women behind each plate.”--Kirkus Reviews

“A noteworthy collection of intriguing stories that illustrate the perseverance, hard work, and passion for food that one must have to succeed. Fans of food memoirs and essays are sure to enjoy.”--Library Journal

"The skill with which Yalof gets her subjects to talk about all the blood, sweat, and tears (and salt and butter, naturally) that goes into a kitchen career in this town is exceptional. Simply put: This is one of the best books on restaurant culture you'll read."--Brooklyn Magazine

"Yalof specializes in oral history, weaving together stories from top chefs, hardscrabble food-cart owners, and mongers (cheese, fish, fruit) past and present. Nibble or nosh at your own pace; this compilation is absolutely delicious (and calorie-free!)."--Washington Review of Books

“Delightful.” – Wall Street Journal

"Dip into any one of these well-chosen personal narratives and you will discover not only a deeper understanding of food and life in New York, but also life lessons and the many shades of the American dream... Whether you are interested in food, Americana or just good storytelling, Yalof’s collection of well-told personal stories will draw you in and reflect a vision that is both unexpected and familiar." --Atlanta Jewish Times

“An absolute must-read between restaurant reservations.” –AM New York (Best Books of 2016)